I am a 33 year old world traveler who has discovered more than my fair share of those "unique" experiences that everyone endeavors to discover when they first set off. From soldier to diver, I have truly been there and done that. Enjoy!
Malaysia in High-Def
Despite the astronomically high cost of alcohol and the very real threat of death over being caught with so much as weed on your breath, both booze and drugs are actually quite easy to come by in Borneo, depending on your resourcefulness. By the time fate brought me to the shores of Malaysia, it had been well over a year since I'd been worth more than 50 dollars at any one time, so I was well prepared for the task at hand. My excuse for being there in the first place was as part of a two man vanguard, sent to source, and eventually purchase equipment to run a successful commercial diving operation outside of Kota Kinabalu. Did we possess the necessary experience and know-how to perform such a task? No. Did we have the faintest idea as to how we were supposed to accomplish such a mission? Absolutely not. But when a clueless Chinese millionaire hands you and your best friend 2 thousand dollars plus a ticket to Malaysia, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth and tell him you're not a jockey. You give your balls a tug, clamber up, and convince yourself that if a midget can do it, it can't be all that hard. It didn't take long for us to start the squander. KK is terribly overpriced if you're a functional alcoholic with no hobbies. It really is quite a beautiful place though. Mount Kinabalu is at your doorstep, and the diving there would make Jacques Cousteau piss in his dry suit. Our first meal was a Burger King Whopper, complete with some delicious monstrosity called "beefacon". Malaysia is what I like to call "Muslim with a side of Muslim". They are so devoted to their faith, that we had to send photocopies of our passport pages ahead of time to prove that we hadn't been to Israel. They are so devoted to their faith, that sodomy and female mud wrestling are punishable by death. And they are SO devoted to their faith, that you can't even purchase a dead pig on top of a dead cow, but instead are subjected to a bullshit beef substitute. What really hit us hard was the cost of alcohol. A single can of beer would run us 3 bucks a piece, and we were coming from Vietnam, a country made infamous for cheap piss (less than 50 cents a litre). It took us about ten days to go flat broke, a new land speed record. We managed to find a liquor store that would sell us a bottle of whiskey for a dollar, but all you were purchasing was a guarantee of shitting your pants and/or getting your lights punched out by your best mate. We had been subsisting on a daily diet of a single piece of bread, a cup of MSG flavoured noodles, and "Franken-smokes", which were created by a combination of collecting leftover cigarettes found in the gutter, and digging through ashtrays at the local mall before rolling your findings into one single carcinogenic experience. In short, there was broke, and then there was us, two private school educated Caucasian twenty somethings, cruising the clubs after last call, drinking all the leave behinds in a country that has the GDP of Jeff Bezos' right testicle. And then we struck gold.
Confessions of a Backpacker
For better AND worse, I chose an author by the name of Charles Bukowski to fill the position of strong male role model left vacant when my single father chose the bottle over me. "Find what you love and let it kill you" is an incredibly attractive turn of phrase to adopt as a personal mantra, and thankfully is equally difficult to accomplish when youth is in your corner. I have spent the majority of my adult life scouring the planet in search of that "Bukowskian bullet", but despite finding my fair share of them, every time I pull the metaphorical trigger, the chamber's been empty. The following tale is but a taste of my findings from a career of world wandering.